This iconic landmark of Japan needs no introduction but ironically, its name is not be very well-known. Before coming here, I didn't know it is called Fushimi Inari Shrine and only referred to it as "that place with the orange tunnel of wooden pillars and beams". Having seen so many striking photos of it, this shrine has been on my checklist of places to visit for a loooooong time if I ever came to Japan. So tada! ...
|... I finally walked into the photograph I've seen so many countless people had taken!|
Probably the most recognisable tourism sight and site in Japan after Mount Fuji, this attraction that is made for souvenir photos is a must-see by being as enchanting and fascinating as it is awkward in its fusion with the forested hillside it calls home.
Walking into a Spiritual Vein of Shinto
Established since 711AD, Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of Japan's definitive cultural relic and is the head of all Inari Shinto shrines (some over 40,000 of them) in Japan. "Inari" is the kami (god) of grain foods such as rice and Sake and is worshipped for its association with good harvest, fertility and prosperity.
As for "Fushimi", it is the name of the location the shrine is at to distinguish it from the many other Inari shrines.
|A giant torii gate marks the entrance path that leads to Fushimi Inari Shrine.|
|A second torii gate stands guard closer to the shrine's Romon Gate. Behind the Romon Gate is the collection of prayer houses of Fushimi Inari Shrine.|
|Foxes are considered messengers for Inari. Wherever you find fox komainu (guardian spirits) at the entrance of a holy place, that is a sure sign that that is an Inari shrine.|
|A stage sits in front of the main prayer (honden) and offering (haiden) hall.|
|Framing the stage where bugaku dance or noh theatre are performed to honour the gods. Torii gate, purification trough, stage, honden, haiden, ema and omikuji are classical features of Shinto shrines.|
|A side shrine within the compound of Fushimi Inari Shrine lined with an ema board where devotees can write their hopes, wishes and prayers on wooden 'cards'.|
|Fushimi Inari Shrine's main honden and haiden hall.|
|There are many ways to pray and make offerings at a Shinto shrine from tying omikuji (fortune telling paper slips) to make good fortunes come true and bad fortunes go away, to lighting candles and incense, to penning hopes on wooden ema cards.|
|Ema in the shape of mini torii gates where visitors can pen wishes and prayers to be hung on a display rack.|
|The old couple were praying to this Shinto altar. May whatever they prayed for come into realisation.|
|The corridor of torii gates is adored by many visitors so it is impossible to get a clean shot without people in the background. But if you come in the evening, the number of visitors will be thinner.|
|A very popular thing to do is to rent a traditional Japanese kimono or costume in downtown Kyoto and pretend to step back in time in Japan at Fushimi Inari Shrine.|
|The torii corridor cocooned us from the forest outside.|
Tofukuji Temple - The Home of Zen